Hudson Valley Sports Report

RICH THOMASELLI COMMENTARY: JOHN JAY VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIP ALL ABOUT PERSEVERANCE

Patriots’ Win Symbolizes The Uphill Battles Teams Faced This Year

It’s an understatement to say that this has been an extraordinary year for high school athletics across the country, particularly here in New York with all the stops and starts caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

John Jay High School’s Section 1, Dutchess Region championship on Thursday is the perfect example of the range of emotions and machinations that every team – champion or not – has gone through this season.

And it was summed up by one quote from Patriots coach Maria Mahoney.

I am very proud and humbled by the win,” she said.

Humbled.

The perfect word.

Rich Thomaselli Commentary

Because this has been a humbling year for everybody – student-athletes, parents, coaches, referees and officials, state and sectional administrators, superintendents, and school board members. The monumental decisions that had to be made, and conveyed, were unbelievable.

And, in many ways, it has been humbling to see it all unfold from this perspective.

Not once – not once – have I heard even the most remote complaint from any of the aforementioned stakeholders in high school athletics. In fact, it was the complete opposite. I heard nothing but gratefulness that they could even get in the semblance of a season that they have had.

Again, something Mahoney was well aware of after her Patriots beat Arlington. After all, John Jay knew very well the rigors of the pandemic. The Patriots were sidelined for nine days prior to the start of the truncated regional tournament and were still without two starters in beating the Admirals in five sets.

“We again made some adjustments,” she said. “We looked rusty and uncomfortable for stretches but managed to be scrappy enough to pull out the win against an amazingly skilled opponent.”

And it wasn’t lost on Mahoney what it took, besides talent and coaching, to get there.

“We want to also thank Section One for allowing us to play. I also want to thank my administration for supporting us throughout the season,” she said. “Of course, the professional officials for always being so good at what they do. And of course we thank you all for covering our matches throughout the season.”

Aw, shucks.

Well, truth be told, we, the media, had nothing to do with it. Sure, many of us covered what turned out to be a compelling story with the virus. Sure, some of us advocated on behalf of what we felt was doing the right thing and the important thing for their mental and emotional well-being – getting our students back onto the playing fields and courts, getting them back into the drama club and yearbook staff. And, uh, yeah, there was at least one of us who lost his cool with a letter directed at Gov. Cuomo.

READ MORE: RICH THOMASELLI COMMENTARY: AN OPEN LETTER TO GOV. CUOMO

Seriously, it took a village to get through the Fall, Winter and Fall II seasons. Mahoney and her team knew that and expressed their gratitude, as class acts often do.

Hopefully, with the virus dissipating for the most part due to warmer weather and the vaccines, this sets the stage for a normal spring season.

As normal as things can be in a year of extraordinary days.

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